It was a see saw affair, seeing both of us going through some mental lapses and struggling to sustain concentration for long periods. I had a great start out of the blocks leading David from the word go, which became unveiled in the 3rd where David stepped up as I thought I had it won. From that moment on, the true "Marine" came out to play taking the ball ridiculously early and making me feel uncomfortable.
Before I knew it we were back to 2 games all and I had let my lead slip. As frustrated as I was, I didn't want to have a repeat of our last years exhibition when I was also up 2-0 and lost 3-2 in a tight fifth setter. I forced myself "in the moment" to raise my game and it was point-for-point and as we got to the later stages of the game.
I felt David more tired than I was and gave it a big push in the tie breaker managing to sneak in with 14-12 win in the fifth. It looked as if David's jetlag kicked in, he arrived from Germany the day prior due to a commitment to play for his Bundesliga League Team in Germany.
Still, I will claim the win and this squared up our exhibition match-ups to one all.
The night finished with our, MC Pete Aitken, hosting a question and answer with the crowd firing questions at the Marine about his many illustrious career experiences.
Check out the photos from the Exhibition Match With David Palmer
Following on two days later, on Friday night the 2nd exhibition took place at East Coast Squash Academy's 2nd venue in Sydney, Bondi Waverley Squash Club. The night started with banter flying early from the crowd stirring the two players on. Guest speaker David Wigley made both players feel welcome on court firing up the crowd with Palmer's awesome career achievements.
The first game started with a gruellng 16:14 win to me going back and fourth several times taking the wind out both of us, lasting over 44 minutes. In the 2nd game, David came out strong attacking the ball early and getting ahead by a 3 point buffer and managing to sustain it for the rest of the game taking it 11-7.
The third game was tight from the start with both players realising the importance of getting on top early and trying to push to take that all-important 2-1 lead. It fell in my favour scraping by, winning the game 11-9.
The fourth game took me by surprise with Dave changing up his strategy by lifting the ball more and attacking early with his killer low cross court second bounce in the nick shot. This stopped my momentum as Dave managed to switch the game plan on me once more. (How many tricks up his sleeve does he have?!?!?) I couldn't come up with an answer fast enough to get back into the game losing 11-8.
Here we were 2 games all - AGAIN and one match all in our exhibition series! It doesn't get tighter than that!
Both of us were fighting hard extending the rallies on the hot bouncy courts at Bondi. It was neck-and-neck all the way. Dave had his first match ball at 10-9 in the fifth and I managed to control David in the rally and bring it back to 10-all with a clinging volley straight back hand drop which David was unable to return.
At 10-all Dave and I had a massive rally with some great pick ups off Dave's aggressive two wall boasts, causing Dave frustration forcing him to make his attack more and more precise, ending in a (rare) mistake. I then served to Dave's forehand ready for another hard fought rally but Dave uncharacteristically and surprisingly went for a cross court nick off the return of serve before it hit the side wall and hit it into the tin, giving me match point.
The crowd reacted with great appreciation, realising both of us left nothing on the court. After the match, Dave and I sat around for a question and answer session. The last question of the night summed it up beautifully. " Dave you're an icon. I watched you from my early childhood and saw you progress up the rankings. You were and always will be my favorite squash player. We can't thank you enough for making the effort to come to Bondi Waverley for the exhibtion with Aaron. You are a true legend and in my eyes, the best player Australia has ever produced!"
A HUGE thank you goes out to David Palmer for making the effort to come out to Australia especially for these East Coast Squash Academy events. THANK YOU!